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Interstitial cystitis (commonly abbreviated to "IC") is a urinary bladder disease of unknown cause characterised by urinary frequency (as often as every 10 minutes), urgency, pressure and/or pain in the bladder and/or pelvis. Pain typically increases as the bladder fills and reduces after voiding however some patients report pain with urination, often in the urethra. Patients may also experience nocturia, pelvic floor dysfunction and tension (thus making it difficult to start their urine stream), pain with sexual intercourse, discomfort and difficulty driving, travelling or working. Research has determined that the quality of life of IC patients is equivalent to end stage renal failure.
It is not unusual for patients to have been misdiagnosed with a variety of other conditions, including: overactive bladder, urethritis, urethral syndrome, trigonitis, prostatitis and other generic terms used to describe frequency/urgency symptoms in the urinary tract.
IC affects men and women of all cultures, socioeconomics, and ages. Although the disease previously was believed to be a condition of menopausal women, growing numbers of men and women are being diagnosed in their twenties and younger. IC is not a rare condition, however IC is more common in females than in men. Early research suggested that IC prevalence ranged from 1 in 100,000 to 5.1 in 1,000 of the general population. New epidemiological data released in 2006 by Dr. Matt Rosenberg now suggests that up to 12% of women may have early symptoms of IC.
The term "interstitial cystitis" has been hotly debated in recent years. In 2003/2004, researchers suggested that milder cases of IC should be known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS). Thus, many journal articles referred to the condition as IC/PBS. The term "IC" was to be used solely for patients who met the very strict NIDDK research criteria. In 2006, yet another name change was proposed. The European Society For The Study of IC (ESSIC) (based in the Netherlands) suggested that the IC and IC/PBS be replaced with Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS). This change in nomenclature (as well as their proposed changes in the diagnostic methodology), was met with great opposition during the 2006 NIDDK Conference from patient groups and clinicians from around the world.